The Ames Straw vote results out of Iowa are in, and Michelle Bachmann appears to have won with 29% of the votes, or 4,823 of the 16,892 votes cast. Bernanke nemesis Ron Paul placed second, just 150 votes behind Bachmann, at 4,671, or taking down 28% of the total. For those stupefied by this result, a source on the ground informs us that Bachmann proceeded to hand out 6000 free tickets at $30 each with a mandatory registration at her booth to gain concert entrance. Furthermore, final results were probably tabulated by the BLS. As for other frontrunners, Pawlenty came in a distant third with 14% or 2,293 of the votes. The Hill has more: "A House member has never finished in the top two; extraordinarily, two House lawmakers finished nearly neck-and-neck toward the top. Bachmann is the first woman to ever win the straw poll. "We’re very excited," said Alice Steward, a spokesman for Bachmann. "it’s a very emotional night for her, she’s excited and thankful all the hard work of the supporters and volunteers paid off...Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) won about 10 percent, pizza magnate Herman Cain finished at about nine percent, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) drew just 35 total votes. Murmurs of huge crowds at Waterloo native's splay on the campus of Iowa State University persisted throughout the day, suggesting that momentum was with — and never waned — from Bachmann's campaign." Rounding off the field were Santorum with 10% of the vote, Herman Cain with 9%, write ins Perry and Romney with 4% and 3%, respectively, and Gingrich getting 2%. We are not quite sure if this is the cue to laugh or cry. Our money is on the latter.
More from The Hill:
A rousing late-day speech that stressed social conservative credentials and Bachmann's ties to the Hawkeye State culminated with Bachmann beckoning undecided voters to her tent, which boasted air conditioning, seating, and performances by country star Randy Travis.
"Join me, I'm heading over to the voting booth right now," she said. "Come with me now."
Pawlenty's failure to finish in the top spot raises new questions about the core health of his campaign. The former Minnesota governor has failed to raise his poll numbers outside the single digits, and had poured most of his remaining resources into the straw poll, where he hoped a victory would infuse his campaign with new momentum.
"We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do," Pawlenty said in a statement. "This is a long process to restore America -- we are just beginning and I'm looking forward to a great campaign."
Pawlenty had set expectations at a finish somewhere in the top-tier; he's said repeatedly that a first-place finish wasn't essential. But even Pawlenty acknowledged Friday that a disappointing finish would force him to "reassess" his campaign, which has set itself up as more of a traditional, nationally-oriented campaign.
As for Paul...
Paul's showing caps off an effort of almost five years, dating back to his first bid for the Republican nomination way back in 2007, when he started to assemble the vast grassroots organization that propelled him to victory in today's straw poll.
He made a midday speech to straw poll participants that was heavy on playing up the Texas congressman's opposition to abortion rights; he also emphasized his opposition to the war in Iraq and criticism of U.S. monetary policy — views that tend to place him outside of the Republican mainstream.
Paul's finish Ames makes Paul's candidacy look less like a longshot, and more like a realistic possibility. The straw poll is a good, if imperfect, indicator of Republicans choice to win next February's caucuses, and Paul's finish on Saturday makes it seem increasingly plausible that he could win those contests.
Of course, if Paul were to eventually become president, we would advise him to not come within 100 miles of any school book depositories. Also to avoid prepared food, theaters, public speeches, pope mobiles (in fact any form of transportation that goes over 15 mph), to run like the wind from any and all hot tubs, jacuzzis, swimming pools, and baths, and in general to conduct his long overdue gold standard policy from a bunker several miles underground if possible.
Alas, this may all be just a tad optimistic.